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In studying the bible, most will see that a main issue in both the Old and New Testament was idolatry.  Though this term is well known in the world today, it is thought that this is a thing of the past, no longer relevant for our generations today.  A careful examination of scripture will reveal that idolatry is not only present today, but is thriving in most societies throughout the world.  Today’s generation generally holds the belief that if the majority is doing something, it must be ok.  The bible tells us that the chosen people of Yahweh will not be a majority, rather a remnant minority.

“Thou shalt not follow a multitude to do evil” ~ Exodus 23:2

An understanding of idolatry was well present during the time of Moses, where Yahweh gave the commandment against it:

“Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the Lord thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me; And shewing mercy unto thousands of them that love me, and keep my commandments.” ~ Exodus 20:4-6

This commandment of Yahweh, the true 2nd commandment, was removed via Roman Catholicism fulfilling the prophecy of Daniel 7 that the times and laws would be changed.  Through Roman Catholicism, many idols were established over the past 1,600 years.  Catholics today worship and serve at alters in lavish temples, they worship images, statues (all made with man’s hands), they carry with them rosary beads, they pray to saints who cannot help them, they pray to an unknown God- Mary the mother of God, and all of this came about by the removal of Yahweh’s 2nd commandment.  Many do these things quite innocently, completely without knowledge of the commandment of Yahweh.  This disregard of the law has been passed on to many Protestant churches who continue to worship and serve at altars made with man’s hands (though much more subtle and less extravagent than in Catholicism), they adorn thier altars with special care and regard them as holy, they worship and serve (take special care of) constructed buildings and temples as if they are holy, they regard altar objects or rooms within the temple/building as holy, they worship at images of Yeshua, images of the cross or actual crosses, and emblems.  You may be a protestant who worships at an altar, and you might say- “I don’t worship the altar, I speak to God at the altar and I’m served by God when I come to the altar.”  I completely understand, I used to say these same things as I too was a protestant yet was never truly introduced to the ways of the Father and Creator outlined in the bible.  Finding the truth in this regard has truly set me free from so many man-made traditions and ordinances, to a life of peace in obedience to the Creator, the great I Am.  For this reason, I challenge any Christian with an honest heart to study what exactly an “altar” is in the biblical sense of scripture.  When looking at the biblical account, an altar firstly was to be made of unhewn stones piled on top of each other (stones that no man has cut or laid his iron to), and secondly the purpose of the altar was for the sacrifice and burning of animal offerings- peace offerings, sin offerings, etc to Yahweh.

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“And if thou wilt make me an altar of stone, thou shalt not build it of hewn stone: for if thou lift up thy tool upon it, thou hast polluted it.” ~ Exodus 20:25

“Then Joshua built an altar unto the Lord God of Israel in mount Ebal, as Moses the servant of the Lord commanded the children of Israel, as it is written in the book of the law of Moses, an altar of whole stones, over which no man hath lift up any iron: and they offered thereon burnt offerings unto the Lord, and sacrificed peace offerings.” ~ Joshua 8:30-31

“And with the stones he built an altar in the name of the Lord: and he made a trench about the altar, as great as would contain two measures of seed.” ~ 1 Kings 18:32 (Speaking of Elijah)

“But Aaron and his sons offered upon the altar of the burnt offering, and on the altar of incense, and were appointed for all the work of the place most holy, and to make an atonement for Israel, according to all that Moses the servant of God had commanded.”1 Chronicles 6:49

And they set the altar upon his bases; for fear was upon them because of the people of those countries: and they offered burnt offerings thereon unto the Lord, even burnt offerings morning and evening.” ~ Ezra 3:3

There are numerous biblical examples explaining the purpose of Yahweh’s altar- again these were erected for the purpose of sacrificing animals for several reasons (sin, peace, etc).  In addition there was typically one “valid” location for the alter of Isreal after the time of Moses, and that was in the tabernacle where the tribe of Levi was commissioned to offer up the sacrifices of the people, and to atone for the sins of the people every year.  There are other cases of Yahweh’s servants erecting altars at various times, such as Elijah where he erected an alter to be consumed by fire from heaven, yet scripture is consistant in that altars were for burnt sacrifices and when the tabernacle was established, this was the location of the burnt sacrifices for the people of Israel.  It was located just outside of the tabernacle.  As the tribes of Israel began to split and inhabit their land assigned by Yahweh, there is record of one of the tribes erecting an altar for the purpose of reminding their children in future generations of their place with Israel, and this was pointedly questioned by the Israelite leaders as potential idolatry.  This altar was ruled to be ok as it was built as a witness between the tribe and Israel to remind the future generations of the tribe that they have a “part in Israel.”  Note- this was not an altar built to worship, as that would violate the 2nd commandment.  Rather it was built with pure intentions as a reminder:

“Thus saith the whole congregation of the Lord, What trespass is this that ye have committed against the God of Israel, to turn away this day from following the Lord, in that ye have builded you an altar, that ye might rebel this day against the Lord? Is the iniquity of Peor too little for us, from which we are not cleansed until this day, although there was a plague in the congregation of the Lord, But that ye must turn away this day from following the Lord? and it will be, seeing ye rebel to day against the Lord, that to morrow he will be wroth with the whole congregation of Israel. Then the children of Reuben and the children of Gad and the half tribe of Manasseh answered, and said unto the heads of the thousands of Israel, The Lord God of gods, the Lord God of gods, he knoweth, and Israel he shall know; if it be in rebellion, or if in transgression against the Lord, (save us not this day,) That we have built us an altar to turn from following the Lord, or if to offer thereon burnt offering or meat offering, or if to offer peace offerings thereon, let the Lord himself require it; And if we have not rather done it for fear of this thing, saying, In time to come your children might speak unto our children, saying, What have ye to do with the Lord God of Israel? For the Lord hath made Jordan a border between us and you, ye children of Reuben and children of Gad; ye have no part in the Lord: so shall your children make our children cease from fearing the Lord. Therefore we said, Let us now prepare to build us an altar, not for burnt offering, nor for sacrifice: But that it may be a witness between us, and you, and our generations after us, that we might do the service of the Lord before him with our burnt offerings, and with our sacrifices, and with our peace offerings; that your children may not say to our children in time to come, Ye have no part in the Lord. God forbid that we should rebel against the Lord, and turn this day from following the Lord, to build an altar for burnt offerings, for meat offerings, or for sacrifices, beside the altar of the Lord our God that is before his tabernacle. And when Phinehas the priest, and the princes of the congregation and heads of the thousands of Israel which were with him, heard the words that the children of Reuben and the children of Gad and the children of Manasseh spake, it pleased them. And Phinehas the son of Eleazar the priest said unto the children of Reuben, and to the children of Gad, and to the children of Manasseh, This day we perceive that the Lord is among us, because ye have not committed this trespass against the Lord: now ye have delivered the children of Israel out of the hand of the Lord. ~ Joshua 22:16-18, 21-27, 29-31

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You can see here that this altar was built as a witness for the people, but was not for the purpose of sacrifice as there was only one valid altar, found in the tabernacle of Yahweh for the purpose of burning the sacrificial animals.  The Old Testament record holds the accounts of many situations of idolatry by other tribes, Babylon, Egypt, and other regions and in these cases, the worship of things that were made with man’s hands was key.  Notice in Yahweh’s instructions, the stones are to be whole, uncut and undefiled.  Idolatrous altars were all made by the craftiness of man, and dedicated to various gods:

“Their idols are silver and gold, the work of men’s hands.” ~ Psalm 115:4

“And they made a calf in those days, and offered sacrifice unto the idol, and rejoiced in the works of their own hands.” ~ Acts 7:41

“Their land also is full of idols; they worship the work of their own hands, that which their own fingers have made:” ~ Isaiah 2:8

Perhaps it is by the arrogance of man, that altars, temples and buildings are created all in the name of worshipping God, yet the worship ends up being a worship of the work of man’s hands rather than that of the Creator.  Three times in history (first with Moses’ tabernacle which was moveable in tents, second with the temple of King Solomon, and third with the rebuilt temple in the time of Ezra and Nehemiah) Yahweh assigned one temple as His tabernacle in Jerusalem where atonement was made for the people, yet the curtain of the final earthly tabernacle of the most holy place was ripped in half with the death of Christ, and the earthly tabernacle ceased, the true tabernacle now found in heaven where Jesus sits as the high priest.  In 70AD, the third and final earthly tabernacle was completely destroyed by Rome.  Today man has erected countless temples, buildings, altars, images, emblems and statues calling many of these places the “house of God.”  Many believe that the blessing of God can only be attained by going to “His house” (the building or altar erected and assigned by man).  Under the New Covenant, the scripture corrects this assumption and reveals that the blessing of Yahweh comes to those that obey Him and His commandments, not those that go to some “place of worship” or earthly “altar,” and further clarifies that “we” that believe and obey “are the temple of God”:

“Howbeit the most High dwelleth not in temples made with hands; as saith the prophet, Heaven is my throne, and earth is my footstool: what house will ye build me? saith the Lord: or what is the place of my rest? Hath not my hand made all these things? Ye stiffnecked and uncircumcised in heart and ears, ye do always resist the Holy Ghost: as your fathers did, so do ye.” ~ Acts 7:48-51

“God that made the world and all things therein, seeing that he is Lord of heaven and earth, dwelleth not in temples made with hands; Neither is worshipped with men’s hands, as though he needed any thing, seeing he giveth to all life, and breath, and all things” ~ Acts 17:24-25

“And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.” ~ 2 Corinthians 6:16

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We are the temple of God.  The temple of God is not the location of some earthly altar or building or sanctuary.  Paul also indicates where the true “altar” is under the New Covenant, and it is no earthly location.  He explains that as the original sacrificial altar was located outside of the tabernacle under the Old Covenant, so was Jesus crucified/sacrificed outside of the city walls of Jerusalem beginning the New Covenant.  Jesus is our altar, for he was the final sacrifice for our sin and our “city” is not on this earth, but it is yet to come:

“Be not carried about with divers and strange doctrines. For it is a good thing that the heart be established with grace; not with meats, which have not profited them that have been occupied therein. We have an altar, whereof they have no right to eat which serve the tabernacle. For the bodies of those beasts, whose blood is brought into the sanctuary by the high priest for sin, are burned without the camp. Wherefore Jesus also, that he might sanctify the people with his own blood, suffered without the gate. Let us go forth therefore unto him without the camp, bearing his reproach. For here have we no continuing city, but we seek one to come.”Hebrews 13:8-14

Yet today, man continues to seek an earthly location marked by man’s own craftiness even though Yahweh does not and will not dwell in temples made with man’s hands.  These idols are even referred to as “dumb” as they can’t see nor hear nor walk:

“What profiteth the graven image that the maker thereof hath graven it; the molten image, and a teacher of lies, that the maker of his work trusteth therein, to make dumb idols?” ~ Habakkuk 2:18

“Ye know that ye were Gentiles, carried away unto these dumb idols, even as ye were led.” ~ 1 Corinthians 12:2

We are also told in scripture that idolatry can take on many different forms:

“Mortify therefore your members which are upon the earth; fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil concupiscence, and covetousness, which is idolatry” ~ Colossians 3:5

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Covetousness is rampant in today’s culture in America.  The constant drive for more entertainment, more money, more luxury, bigger home, better car, the best food and the list goes on.  Some make it a life consuming practice to acquire all of these earthly things.  Life becomes all about what man can gain.  Covetousness leads to many other sins as well, including lust, fornication, adultery, lies, deceit, greed, envy, strife, murder and the list goes on.  The scriptures also refer to idolatry as “whoring”- also a line of work where one gives of themselves expecting some kind of gain or payment:

“And they that escape of you shall remember me among the nations whither they shall be carried captives, because I am broken with their whorish heart, which hath departed from me, and with their eyes, which go a whoring after their idols: and they shall lothe themselves for the evils which they have committed in all their abominations.” ~ Ezekiel 6:9

I have seen your abominations, your adulteries and neighings, your lewd whorings, on the hills in the field. Woe to you, O Jerusalem! How long will it be before you are made clean?” ~ Jeremiah 13:27

The culture of today breaths the words “what do I get?”  Many only give with the expectation of receiving something in return, rather than giving out of love for their neighbor with no expectations.  Some will give of their time with expectation of recognition or to be elevated to a higher status.  This covetous nature of constantly wanting more, desiring status, or wanting what someone else has is idolatry according to Paul.  It is placing evil desires and thoughts of earthly gain in the place of worshipping the Creator and honoring His commandments.  We hope that you are able to take the time to study on these things.  Idolatry is rampant today- not only in Hinduism, Buddhism and various eastern cultures, but it is also alive and well in Christianity both Catholic and Protestant.  In the end, every man that repents of these deeds and calls upon the name of Yeshua will be saved, yet every man that does not repent will be judged.  Even after the last plagues there will be many idolaters:

“And the rest of the men which were not killed by these plagues yet repented not of the works of their hands, that they should not worship devils, and idols of gold, and silver, and brass, and stone, and of wood: which neither can see, nor hear, nor walk: Neither repented they of their murders, nor of their sorceries, nor of their fornication, nor of their thefts.” ~ Revelation 9:20-21

We encourage you to flee idolatrous worship at supposed “holy” earthly altars, in specially made buildings and temples designated as the “House of God”, at emblems, images, statues, etc.  Flee covetousness also as this is a form of idolatry and is also commanded by Yahweh in the 10th commandment.  Be satisfied with what you have been given by Yahweh, seek the Kingdom of Yahweh first.  Worship at any earthly altar or building or temple will bring one no closer to the Creator than one could have been before he/she entered.  Idolatry, even when done innocently instead accomplishes the opposite, pulling man away from a true connection to the Father through the Son.  Seek the Creator through the Son, Yeshua, the true and only altar for the children of Yahweh under the New Covenant.  You will find His forgiveness and grace there.  Approach him in prayer and seek Him out.  Many obey various idolatrous practices because they have been handed down generation after generation.  The truth will be made known to the entire world soon.  In the end, if we would like to be counted among the “saints”, we must keep the commandments of Yahweh (including the 2nd commandment), and the faith of Yeshua:

“Here is the patience of the saints: here are they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus.” ~ Revelation 14:12

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